A doctor in the family, a lawyer friend, a neighbour in business – it all helps when it comes to aspiring to, and landing, that first job after college.
A family’s social network also plays a role in work experience options for transition year (TY), which are so important for opening doors and minds.
So what about students living in disadvantaged communities, who don’t have those connections that could translate into an average 30pc pay gap after college?
Ann-Marie Hynes, TY co-ordinator at Larkin Community College, Dublin, says traditional work placements for her students revolved around fast food, retail and hairdressing.
A new initiative, run by the North East Inner City regeneration group and the National College of Ireland, is changing that.
Last year, it placed almost 100 students across businesses and civil and public service organisations. This year, it’s aiming for 420, in law firms such as Matheson, tech giant Oracle, the Department of the Taoiseach, and the Convention Centre.
According to Ms Hynes, while her students have had “all these companies on their doorstep, they never got to go inside. After this, they have these companies on their CVs”.
Kian Grogan (16), a fifth-year student at Larkin, was among the first to benefit.
He plans to study computer science and will be the first in his family to progress to higher education.
When the opportunities were presented to Kian’s TY class last year, he aimed high and wasted no time: “I put my name down for the Taoiseach’s office.”
First, he spent a week in Oracle, where he learned that computing was what he wanted to do, and then moved to the heart of Government.
As the school year drew to a close, he took an opportunity to work in Matheson, where he “asked to be in IT”.
He has his contacts there now and plans to be back next summer.
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